A veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the hospitality world attended last night’s AA Hospitality Awards, considered to be the industry’s own ‘Oscars’ and one of the unique times when the hospitality industry comes together to recognise the achievements of the nations’ best hoteliers, restaurateurs and publicans.
Drawing on the unrivalled knowledge and expertise of the AA inspectorate and other industry professionals involved in the judging process, winners are selected in recognition of excellence and success within their chosen category, having shown a significant improvement in the preceding 12 – 18 months and proving their dedication to raising industry standards and enhancing both their guest and diner experiences.
All the winners appear in the latest edition of the 2016 AA Hotel, Restaurant and Pub Guides which were launched at the event.
Guests at the event, hosted by Fiona Bruce (pictured above with Robin Hutson and Simon Numphud of AA Hotel Services), were treated to a gastronomic menu created the 2014 AA Chef’s Chef, Nathan Outlaw.
AA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner – Robin Hutson
This year’s decision to award Robin Hutson with the Lifetime Achievement Award was an easy one to make. The award recognises professionals within the hospitality industry who have committed their lives to the pursuit of perfection within their discipline and there is no doubt that Robin has the midas touch when it comes to hospitality.
Robin’s career began with on the Savoy Group’s management training programme including periods at Claridge’s, The Berkeley and Hotel de Crillon in Paris. He then went on to work for the Five Star Elbow Beach Hotel in Bermuda for two years before being offered the General Manager’s position at Chewton Glen in the New Forest, spending the next eight years there and leaving as the Managing Director.
Robin then co-founded the highly successful Hotel Du Vin group which is generally recognised as the vanguard of the UK boutique hotel movement. After just ten years they sold the Hotel Du Vin group and Robin joined the Soho House Group as Executive Chairman. During his time the group doubled in size and was later sold for £105M.
A return to the New Forest beckoned having been approached by Jim Ratcliffe who was developing Parkhill, and in 2009 Lime Wood was unveiled. It quickly became established as one of the UK’s top country house hotels, winning many awards including the AA Hotel of the Year for England in 2012.
Now as executive chairman of the group, he has focused on developing Home Grown Hotels and created The PIG chain, a relaxed country house concept based around kitchen garden produce. The PIG in the forest opened with much critical acclaim and it was clear to see that he had created yet another ground-breaking hotel with broad consumer appeal and universal praise from his industry peers.
All of his hotels have achieved three AA Red Stars this year and continue to deliver an excellent level of consistency, made even more impressive given the high level of occupancy and the tremendous food and beverage turnover that each property generates.
AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year 2015 (sponsored by Caterer.com)
A unique award that offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition.
Winner – Daniel Clifford
Daniel is one of the country’s most respected chefs, and rightfully so. His background in working in some of the best restaurants in the UK and France has led to an absolute focus on purity of flavour in his cooking. Daniel’s pursuit of continual development, sheer dedication for perfection and exemplary belief in his craft, has made him an inspiration to so many chefs at all levels.
AA Hotel of the Year
Introduced in 1992, and awarded to hotels that are recognised as being outstanding examples in their particular market.
- Winner, England (sponsored by Temple Spa) – Cliveden, Taplow
- Winner, Wales (sponsored by Avanti Gas) – St George’s Hotel, Llandudno
- Winner, Scotland (sponsored by PSL – the food professionals) – Rufflets Country House, St Andrews
- Winner, London (sponsored by BriefYourMarket) – Corinthia Hotel, London
- Winner, Northern Ireland – Galgorm Resort and Spa, Ballymena
AA Restaurant of the Year
While the standard of cuisine is at the very heart of the selection criteria for these awards, innovation, ambience, and hospitality are all part of the equation that determines the eventual winners.
- Winner, England – House of Tides, Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Winner, Wales – Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot
- Winner, Scotland – The Gannet, Glasgow
- Winner, London (sponsored by Food & Travel Magazine) – Tredwell’s London
AA Wine Award (sponsored by Matthew Clark)
Nominees are judged on the quality of their wine list and their ability to inspire customers to make wider and more adventurous choices.
- Winner, England and Overall – The Sun Inn, Dedham
- Winner, Wales – Walnut Tree, Abergavenny
- Winner, Scotland – Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow
AA Pub of the Year
Combining the provision of enjoyable food, a great pub atmosphere, and a warm welcome with a high standard of management
- Winner, England – The Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold
- Winner, Wales – Kinmel Arms, Abergele
- Winner, Scotland – The Scran and Scallie, Edinburgh
AA Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by Beacon)
A hugely prestigious award presented in recognition of the hotel group that has a proven track record of striving to ensure the very best levels of service, food and accommodation across the range of properties. Attention to detail is imperative and a committed and structured approach to future development is essential.
Winner – Brend Hotels
AA Eco Hotel and Eco Hotel Group of the Year
These awards recognises a clear commitment to sustainability, demonstrated through good practice and policy to make a positive contribution to reducing impact on the environment
- Winner, Eco Hotel – The Savoy, London
- Winner, Eco Hotel Group – Exclusive Hotels and Venues
AA Food Service Award
The AA Food Service Award recognises establishments who not only deliver excellent standards of restaurant service and hospitality but also have technical service skills, food and beverage knowledge of the highest standard and a clear commitment to staff training and development.
Winner – Belmond Le Manoir aux Quats’ Saisons
AA Housekeeper of the Year Award (sponsored by Northmace & Hendon)
The award recognises outstanding commitment and performance, identifying a Housekeeper who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Winner – Sarah Middlemas – The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
AA Spirit Award (sponsored by The Balvenie)
This award was introduced in 2014 to recognise the professional promotion, education and service of spirits in the hospitality industry.
Winner – The Churchill Bar and Terrace, London